BACKGROUND: Egypt’s main source of income, tourism, has suffered greatly since the revolution in 2011. Ongoing acts of terrorism, some of which have targeted Westerners, have frightened most tourists away. There is a large gap between the upper and lower classes in Egypt, which is located in North Africa but culturally aligned with the Middle East. Islam was introduced in the 7th century by Arab conquerors. Egypt has the fastest growing population in the Arab world.
MAJOR RELIGIONS: Sunni Islam is the majority religion, but 10 percent of Egyptians are Coptic Christians.
PERSECUTOR: Various extremist groups operate in Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood and the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS). The government does little to prevent attacks on Christians and sometimes beats or imprisons those who are outspoken about their faith.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN EGYPT: Coptic Christians are free to practice their faith. They dress differently than Muslims and worship in their own buildings. The government intervenes only when they disrupt society, which usually involves evangelism or outreach to the Muslim majority community. However, when Coptic Christians are attacked or kidnapped, the government rarely provides assistance. Evangelical churches often face opposition from Coptic churches, especially if they are engaged in evangelism. Converts from Islam to Christianity face the most problems, including being expelled from their family, being divorced by their Muslim spouse, losing their children and losing their job. Additionally, because their ID cards identify them as Muslim, it is difficult for them to attend church, marry, register their children in school, obtain a job or immigrate elsewhere. When arrested, Christians are generally imprisoned for only a week or two, with a few notable exceptions. They are frequently accused of proselytizing Muslims or of apostasy.
ACCESS TO BIBLES: Bibles in Egypt are readily available at Bible societies, churches and book stores in a variety of formats, translations and languages. However, not all Egyptian Christians can afford a Bible, and printed Bibles are not practical in areas with high illiteracy.
VOM WORK: VOM responds to widespread persecution needs and provides Christmas Care Packs and Action Packs to oppressed believers.